Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Children's Center Offers Help for Special Youngsters

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Children's Center Offers Help for Special Youngsters

Article excerpt

The Children's Center is home for special children. Children who have suffered child abuse, perinatal complications, congenital defects, injury or illness after birth or whose mothers abused drugs or alcohol.

"This is a temporary place for a child," said Albert Gray, administrator. "We help the child reach his potential with home placement in mind as a goal. These children will not be Little League baseball players, but they are happy."

The Children's Center has traditionally taken care of the fragile patients of the day, said Gray. In the 1950s, it cared for children with polio and today it cares for children who have suffered child abuse or whose mothers abused alcohol or drugs. In the future, it may care for children who are born with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

The patient population has shifted dramatically to younger, less medically stable patients, said Gray. The majority of the children entering the facility are referred from a neonatal intensive care unit at Children's Hospital of Oklahoma, Mercy Health Center, Baptist Medical Center of Oklahoma or Children's Hospital of Tulsa.

"The Children's Center is the only one of its kind in the state," said Gene Chandler, Department of Human Services programs administrator for long-term care. "It is surprising that some of the children who have various and multiple handicaps improve and are able to return to the family."

"When the children come here, they usually have to be taught everything," said Celia Webster, public affairs director for the center. "We measure their progress in small steps. Some of the basic skills are learned at the center.

"For example, some of our youngest or least developed children begin with learning to turn over."

The rehabilitation program uses a team approach incorporating physical therapy, speech therapy, music therapy and special education so that the child can develop to his full potential.

The children admitted to the center require 24-hour skilled nursing care or have potential for rehabilitation.

The Children's Center staff includes nine registered nurses, eight licensed practical nurses, two physical therapists, an occupational therapist, a speech pathologist, two special education teachers, five assistants and 55 child care workers. …

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